Editor’s note: This story also appears in the February edition of Park Cities People.
Think back to Christmas of 1988. Do you remember anything your mom and dad gave you?
Amy Polk knows exactly what she received from her parents that year. Their gift is still waking her up at night, complaining that he’s hungry.
Polk shares her University Park home with her 10-year-old son, her 2-year-old dog, and her 25-year-old cat. She vividly remembers the day she met her feline friend, Tab.
“My dad walks in, in a Members Only jacket, with a big huge stocking,” she said. “This is when I liked to diet — I was very thin — and I told my mother, ‘Oh my God, he’s brought me candy.’ I was horrified. And he bent down, and there was little Tab in the stocking.”
Tab has been in Polk’s life ever since, with “in” being the operative word; she thinks his lack of exposure to the outdoors has been a factor in his longevity. But the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says an average indoor cat lives 13 to 17 years, an age Tab has long since surpassed.
According to calculatorcat.com (bookmark it today!), 25 cat years are the equivalent of 117 human years. Consequently, Tab has only a few teeth left. And Polk said you can tell he has arthritis by the way he walks.
“But he still gets up and jumps, and he’ll come upstairs if he really needs something,” she said.
Tab’s needs were acute the week before Christmas 2013, when veterinarian Sarah McCabe came by Polk’s house three times to give him fluids intravenously. The cat hadn’t eaten or drank anything for days, but he’s since bounced back from that scare.
“There’s nothing physically wrong with him,” McCabe said. “He’s just old and thin.”
McCabe, who branded herself as the Park Cities House Call Vet a few years ago, said some of her clients need in-home care because they’re near the end — but not all of them.
“A lot of pets — the cats, especially — they freak out when they go into a clinic,” she said. “The car ride is so stressful.”
Owning an ancient cat is also stressful, so Polk will be somewhat relieved when Tab finally passes on. (We can speak frankly here, because we doubt the cat will read this.) She knows one night outside would probably do him in. But she can’t bring herself to that step.
Since Tab came along, Polk has graduated from college, gotten married, become a mother, and gone through a divorce. She’s also buried her dad, which makes it hard to let go of Tab.
“I’m going to lose a part of my life if he dies,” she said. “I don’t even remember not having this cat.”